Movement Disorders Program

Movement disorders can be difficult to diagnose correctly as they are primarily diagnosed by careful observation rather than laboratory or imaging tests. Movement disorder specialists have much greater experience in observation than general neurologists, and therefore are more likely to give a correct diagnosis. During observation, the movements are categorized, which aids in making a correct diagnosis. Examples of hyperkinetic categories are rhythmic vs arrhythmic, sustained vs non-sustained, episodic vs continual or continuous, sleep vs awake, and patterned vs non-patterned. Rarely, laboratory tests or images will be done to identify or rule out an underlying cause of the movement disorder.

Treatments are recommended if the abnormal movements are troublesome. Treatment usually involves medications, but sometimes surgery can augment medications or provide benefits that medications cannot provide. The choice of medication is generally based on the category of abnormal movements. The side effects of medications are also considered, as sometimes the side effects can be desirable (e.g. sleepiness for an insomniac).

Surgical Treatment of Movement Disorders

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is the main surgical treatment for movement disorders. DBS for the brain is similar to a pacemaker for the heart. It is usually used with, but sometimes in place of, medications. Learn more about Deep Brain Stimulation